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1. Being within the law; allowed by law: lawful methods of dissent.
2. Established, sanctioned, or recognized by the law: the lawful heir.
3. Obeying the law; law-abiding.

law′ful·ly adv.
law′ful·ness n.


(Law) allowed, recognized, or sanctioned by law; legal
ˈlawfully adv
ˈlawfulness n


(ˈlɔ fəl)

1. allowed by law: a lawful enterprise.
2. sanctioned by law; legitimate: a lawful heir.
3. appointed or recognized by law; legally qualified: a lawful king.
4. acting or living according to the law; law-abiding.
law′ful•ly, adv.
law′ful•ness, n.


1. 'legal' and 'lawful'

Legal and lawful both mean 'allowed by law'. Lawful is a formal word.

A breath test showed he had drunk more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Capital punishment is legal in many countries.
Hunting is a lawful activity.
All his activities had been perfectly lawful.
2. 'legitimate'

Legitimate means 'correct or acceptable according to a law or rule'.

...a legitimate business transaction.

Legitimate can also mean 'justifiable under the circumstances'.

Religious leaders have a legitimate reason to be concerned.

If someone is legitimate, their parents were married at the time they were born.

...evidence that he was his father's legitimate son.
3. another meaning of 'legal'

Legal also means 'relating to the law'. You cannot use lawful or legitimate with this meaning.

...the British legal system. language.
4. 'law' in front of nouns

You use law, not 'legal', in front of a noun when you are talking about someone or something connected with the study of law.

...a law student.
He had only just received his law degree.

Law also appears in the names of some places and institutions connected with the law.

...the Law Courts.
...the Law Society.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.lawful - conformable to or allowed by law; "lawful methods of dissent"
legal - established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules
square, straight - characterized by honesty and fairness; "straight dealing"; "a square deal"
unlawful - contrary to or prohibited by or defiant of law; "unlawful measures"; "unlawful money"; "unlawful hunters"
2.lawful - according to custom or rule or natural law
regular - in accordance with fixed order or procedure or principle; "his regular calls on his customers"; "regular meals"; "regular duties"
3.lawful - having a legally established claimlawful - having a legally established claim; "the legitimate heir"; "the true and lawful king"
legitimate - of marriages and offspring; recognized as lawful
4.lawful - authorized, sanctioned by, or in accordance with law; "a legitimate government"
legal - established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules


adjective legal, constitutional, just, proper, valid, warranted, legitimate, authorized, rightful, permissible, legalized, allowable, licit lawful for the doctors to treat her in whatever way they considered best
banned, illegal, forbidden, prohibited, unlawful, illicit, illegitimate, unauthorized


Within, allowed by, or sanctioned by the law:
Slang: legit.


[ˈlɔːfʊl] ADJ [owner, government] → legítimo; [action, behaviour] → legítimo, lícito; [contract] → legal, válido
lawful wedded husbandlegítimo esposo m
lawful wedded wifelegítima esposa f


[ˈlɔːfʊl] adj (= allowed by law) → légal(e)
it is lawful to ... → il est légal de ...


adjrechtmäßig; lawful wedded wiferechtmäßig angetraute Frau; will you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?willst du mit diesem Mann den Bund der Ehe eingehen?


[ˈlɔːfʊl] adjlegale


(loː) noun
1. the collection of rules according to which people live or a country etc is governed. Such an action is against the law; law and order.
2. any one of such rules. A new law has been passed by Parliament.
3. (in science) a rule that says that under certain conditions certain things always happen. the law of gravity.
ˈlawful adjective
1. (negative unlawful) allowed by law. He was attacked while going about his lawful business.
2. just or rightful. She is the lawful owner of the property.
ˈlawfully adverb
ˈlawless adjective
paying no attention to, and not keeping, the law. In its early days, the American West was full of lawless men.
ˈlawlessly adverb
ˈlawlessness noun
lawyer (ˈloːjə) noun
a person whose work it is to know about and give advice and help to others concerning the law. If you want to make your will, consult a lawyer.
ˈlaw-abiding adjective
obeying the law. a law- abiding citizen.
law court (also court of law)
a place where people accused of crimes are tried and legal disagreements between people are judged.
ˈlawsuit noun
a quarrel or disagreement taken to a court of law to be settled.
be a law unto oneself
to be inclined not to obey rules or follow the usual customs and conventions.
the law
the police. The thief was still in the building when the law arrived.
the law of the land
the established law of a country.
lay down the law
to state something in a way that indicates that one expects one's opinion and orders to be accepted without argument.
References in classic literature ?
I say, young gentleman, may Providence bless your undertaking, which is altogether for good; and, remember, that to outwit the knaves it is lawful to practise things that may not be naturally the gift of a white-skin.
You will therefore oblige me, my dear Alice, by answering this person's inquiries, and complying with his lawful and reasonable requests, so far as they may appear to have the aforesaid object in view.
The catching business, we beg to remind them, is rising to the dignity of a lawful and patriotic profession.
That was a good fight, but it could not count, partly because it did not last the lawful fifteen minutes (of actual fighting), and partly because neither man was disabled by his wound.
I require and charge you both (as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed), that if either of you know any impediment why ye may not lawfully be joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it; for be ye well assured that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God's Word doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is their matrimony lawful.
I thought he intended to cut a caper round the bed; but suddenly composing himself, he fell on his knees, and raised his hands, and returned thanks that the lawful master and the ancient stock were restored to their rights.
his wife in the sight of Heaven,' she set herself from the first to accomplish the one foremost purpose of so living with him, in the world's eye, as never to raise the suspicion that she was not his lawful wife.
The illuminated village had seized hold of the tocsin, and, abolishing the lawful ringer, rang for joy.
To this hour I don't know whether my aunt had any lawful right of way over that patch of green; but she had settled it in her own mind that she had, and it was all the same to her.
In it were others of the king's wives, but when they saw me they rose and went away, for it was not lawful that they should stay where I was.
High matter thou injoinst me, O prime of men, Sad task and hard, for how shall I relate To human sense th' invisible exploits Of warring Spirits; how without remorse The ruin of so many glorious once And perfet while they stood; how last unfould The secrets of another world, perhaps Not lawful to reveal?
But these sounds of disaffection were drowned by the popular shout of ``Long live the Lady Rowena, the chosen and lawful Queen of Love and of Beauty